I noticed this series of tweets with Chris Heuer, Social media Club Founder, on Twitter the last couple of days.
Before I continue, I do want to disclose that I was previously employed with the company that Chris is referencing in his tweets. The purpose of this post is to solely highlight the increased use of social media for sales, customer service, and customer feedback.
Now back to where I was headed =) In the past, most of these sales and customer support activities were done out of the public eye either through customer advisory boards, email customers surveys and other communications methods. However, as more potential and current customers seek information from trusted sources, that is our social graph and friend networks, these previously “secret” processes are being brought to the surface.
From a sales perspective, I recently wrote about the pros and cons of using Twitter for sales prospecting. In this case, we are now seeing how one has to be careful with connecting with customers with social media, especially with someone like Chris who has over 10,000 followers. Here are my recommendations for engaging with prospects or customers via social media:
- * Acknowledge the Person’s Feedback: In this case, Chris was unhappy with the amount of time it took for a response and when he was finally contacted, the level of understanding for his business. By recognizing these two points, the company would have acknowledged their mistake. As Alli Gerkman wrote recently, “Sometimes ‘Sorry’ is the Best PR”
- * Take It Offline: The first tendency is to want to respond via social media to tell your side of the story. While I would have also responded via Twitter back to Chris, my message would be about connecting offline. This way, you demonstrate that you are listening online and being proactive.
- * Personalize the Brand: I realize there is a lot of discussion about having a “corporate” brand on Twitter vs personal ones. I strongly believe that a corporation should have a corporate brand. With that said, I have also recognized the value of “personalizing” who is managing the Twitter feed. And so your corporate brand isn’t associated with anyone person, you can say that the marketing team or a couple people are responsible for the Twitter feed. In this case, I am unsure who is responding back to Chris.
These are just a few of my ideas – what do you think?
UPDATE: The company subsequently sent a tweet to Chris apologizing with a plan to call him today.
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Using Social Media for Customer Support – three things to consider by @csalomonlee: http://bit.ly/UnRQs
This morning, I sent out a tweet asking for feedback about press release newswires. A few hours later, I received an email from a company regarding news monitoring service. To protect the innocent, the email started:
Cece, thank you for your interest in [company]. Here’s some basic information
I was a bit confused as I 1) didn’t recognize the name of the company or person and 2) didn’t remember downloading/submitting anything related to news monitoring. Curious, and partially to keep a mental note for future reference, I asked how I demonstrated interest in the company. The response?:
“Forgive me Cece, I meant to send this to you referring to your posting on Twitter but failed to. We monitor mentions of the newswire services and your posting was sent to me as a lead.”
Interesting and scary at the same time. While I do see Twitter becoming a real-time source for sales leads, especially when directly related to your product and services, I think there are some best practices to follow:
1. Reference Source: As the sales person acknowledged, he/she forgot to highlight that this was based on my Twitter posting.
2. Relevancy: My initial request was feedback on newswires – not media monitoring. It seems like any post with certain keywords are being forwarded as prospective leads which leads me to
3. Context: Be sure to understand the context of a person’s original tweet
4. Tweet Me, Don’t Email Me: This is where the big brother part freaked me out. Yes, my email address is on my blog but I used Twitter for a reason. I wanted to get feedback from Twitter. Unless you’re a friend of mine, I don’t expect a response via email from a stranger – Side note – I don’t anticipate a sales person to go through the effort of gonig to my blog for email and since I don’t have it on my Twitter profile…how did he/she get my email?!
5. Add Value: To me, Twitter is about engaging in a conversation or seeing what my friends/contacts are doing. If you want to respond to me, add value to the conversation.
In the end, just because you track down a possible lead on Twitter, Linkedin, or some other way, there are certain best practices that sales folks need to practice. What do you think? Any other tips for marketing folks mining social media for sales prospects?
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Cut and paste this: Twitter used for sales lead prospects – 5 tips for doing this well by @csalomonlee: http://bit.ly/ilL0X
A couple of weeks ago, I met up with Jason Falls of Doe Anderson and Social Media Explorer. After a beautiful meal at Il Fornaio with Jason and his wife, we sat down for a quick video about social media and communciations strategies. Here is a summaryof this video.
Communications Strategy: Traditional and Social Media
* Communications strategies for traditional PR is typically one that looks at talking points and messages we want to communicate via traditional media
* Traditional media is about one-way communciations with the audience
* With social media, traditional media is no longer part of this as now you’re going direct to the consumer
* No longer is it one-way communications. It’s about how you can create a strategy to communicate these talking points in a conversational way
Different for B2B and B2C?
- Not necessarily as B2B is in between the two extremes of traditional media and social media
- Regardless if this is B2B or B2C, social media requires a conversation
- How can you be nimble in your conversations
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PRMM Interview with Jason Falls regarding social media and communications strategy by @csalomonlee: http://twurl.nl/a70p7g
My husband likes to say that everything we do for public relations is basically bull crap. I always argue with him that public relations fills an important role in how company’s present themselves to the public. It never seems to work because his point is that companies are just lying to consumers and the public to sell more stuff. When he points to how oil, car, pharmaceutical, etc. companies market themselves, it’s sometimes hard to argue. In fact, he’ll even point to an instance when a spokesperson blatantly lied to better position his or her company.
I admit, he does have a point. As public relations professionals, what is our ethical obligation to our clients, and ourselves, if we know that a client is pushing the edge of truth? At what point does “messaging” become “lying”? And do private companies “get away” with more than public ones?
And what if you see a competitor blatantly lying or contradicting previously stated comments, do you have an ethical obligation to point this out to a reporter?
From my perspective, we as an industry have a bad rap for being flacks precisely because there are some PR practitioners out there who are willing to push the edge alongside with their clients. One “small” lie can quickly avalanche into new products and features to stay top of mind with reporters, but do your customers a disservice when those features aren’t “technically” available for weeks or months.
But I also have to remind myself that sometimes the clients insist that we go to market with a message that we know in our bones is inaccurate or obfuscating the truth, then what is our ethical obligation? For me, it comes down to my personal ethics. I think we have an obligation to provide our recommendation and if the “lie” is so egregious, to excuse ourselves from that campaign or account entirely or even resign from the company.
What do you think?
In late April, I met Christian Jurink a of Attack Marketing at the Event Marketing Summit. I was intrigued by how guerilla marketing can reach your audience/consumers and drive them to action. And yes, that is a champion sumo wrestler in the background. Attack does work for a sumo organization and have adopted him as their “mascot.” Here is a quick summary of our conversation:
Economy’s Impact on Guerilla Marketing
1. As budgets are being constricted, really need to be more creative to connect with consumers
2. Guerilla marketing is a cost-effective way to do that while honing in on your consumers and talking with them there
Key Benefits of Guerilla Marketing
1. Proximity marketing – it’s about honing and finding key consumer and being near them
2. About driving people to retail and converting to a sell
3. Can be anywhere your consumers are and driving them to retail
When Tiananmen happened, I was just a college freshman – fresh-eyed and away from home the first time in my life. I was just exploring my identity – second generation Chinese born to immigrant parents, seeking to understand how I fit into the world. The incidents in Tiananmen were eye-opening, shocking and maddening at the same time.
Fast forward 20 years. The anniversary sort of crept up on me. There is barely any mention of the anniversary on TV. Somehow, this incident has been swept away as the Chinese government has expertly positioned itself on the world stage over the past years and the success of the Beijing Olympics.
It’s interesting to hear the lengths that the Chinese government is going through in advance of the anniversary. Social networking sites, such as Twitter, are being blocked to stem the flow of information coming out of China. In a way, they are the best in our profession – the ability to control a message and put out the one that they want.
In 1989, this wasn’t the case. The government was unsure how to manage the spontaneous marches that took place and youthful excitement of the student leaders seeking change. Rather, their knee-jerk reaction resulted in the deadly incidents on June 4. The moment of transparency and openness was quickly closed.
While the Chinese government attempts a blackout in the coming days, I hope the voices of those able to leave China will serve as a reminder to those incidents 20 years ago this Thursday. Surely, no one government can completely block out the voices?
What lessons can we learn from Tiananmen and the Chinese government’s actions?
My apologies – this was a guest post by Alli Gerkman when I was on vacation. I didn’t realize that I had to approve this, so here’s the missing guest post:
So, I’m sitting here in a hotel room in Sacramento, one day into a two-day conference. I’d been thinking about what to write since last week when Cece asked me to guest post, but after the day I’ve had, I’m changing direction. That’s the funny thing about blogging. You never know where it’s going to take you.
I’m in Sacramento because I organize and run legal conferences around the country–about 24 each year. Usually, things go seamlessly (or almost seamlessly–it’s hard to imagine a completely error-free event). Occasionally, things don’t. Today was one of those days.
Each mistake, on its own, is relatively innocuous. The conference room is moved and is difficult to find. But people find it and life goes on.
We notice the printer left a section out of the materials. Okay. We can get Kinkos to deliver the missing section within hours.
But then the computer dies mid-presentation, forcing a speaker to finish without PowerPoint. Now people are starting to think, “What is going on here?”
I take these mistakes pretty seriously. The speakers I line up for my conferences are leaders in their fields and the attendees have given us tuition and entrusted us with two full days of their valuable time, so I don’t like to disappoint.
That said, most mistakes are out of my personal control. I could get bogged down in explaining that: “See, after I do the final edits on the materials, it goes to our printer who prints and ships the book. That missing section was there when I reviewed it, but I don’t have another review between when the finals are printed and when they are shipped to the hotel, so there was nothing I could do other than get Kinkos to print the section and send it over.”
But does anyone want to hear that? Did you even want to read it just now? Does it help address the situation in any way? Probably not. So instead, I say, “I’m sorry.”
And I mean it.
Of course, I can’t stop there. “Sorry” doesn’t mean I’m off the hook–it means I’m working harder than ever to get things back on track. But it’s a start to building a stronger relationship with our speakers and attendees. Believe it or not, some of my best evaluations have come from conferences that couldn’t catch a break. After all, it’s easy to represent your company or your brand when everything is going right, but it’s how you react when things go wrong that can set you apart.
Tomorrow is day two and I think we’re in good shape, but wish me luck.
Cece Salomon-Lee is director of marketing for ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions division, and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.
This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.
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